Six Straight Years of Record-Breaking Graduating Classes for LSU
Spring 2019 commencement sets a number of new records for degrees awarded
BATON ROUGE – SEC Professor of the Year Gabriela González delivered the keynote address, and LSU graduated its largest and most diverse class ever at the university’s 298th commencement exercises on Friday, May 10.
At the spring commencement ceremony, a record 4,442 degrees were awarded. The overall class of 2018-19 – students receiving degrees in previous summer and fall commencements combined with the current spring commencement – saw 7,047 degrees awarded, the highest in any academic year ever.
“There’s something special about this class of 2019 … It’s the largest spring graduating class in the history of LSU!” said LSU President F. King Alexander, who presided over the main commencement ceremony. “This is truly an impressive class of graduates.”
This spring saw the most degrees ever awarded to female students, African-American students, Hispanic students and Asian students. Among female students, a new record of 2,494 degrees were awarded; a new record of 435 degrees were awarded to African-American students; a new record of 266 degrees were awarded to Hispanic students; and a new record of 179 degrees were awarded to Asian students. This spring also saw the second-highest number of veterans receiving degrees with 89 degrees awarded.
A number of records were also set for the entire 2018-19 overall graduating class – 3,826 degrees awarded to female students; 418 degrees awarded to Hispanic students; and 271 degrees awarded to Asian students. For the overall class, LSU award the second-most ever degrees to African American students with 766 and the second-most degrees to veterans with 172.
Alexander said to the graduates, “You are needed to make the world a better place. You have the tools, the skills, and the talent to do so, and the benefits you reap can impact not only your own life, but have a ripple effect around the globe. Every one of us here today has great faith in you and what we know you will accomplish for so many in need of your talents and wisdom.”
In her keynote address, González told the graduates about an important lesson she learned during her time at college – set ambitious goals and work hard to achieve them, but be flexible and recognize new talents and new opportunities as they arise.
“The results are often better than your original goal, and most importantly, you will be happier when you follow the new path that opens before you, not necessarily the straight path that you started walking,” she said. “And being happy with your own decisions should be your standard – this is going to be the key to your success.”
González congratulated the graduates on earning their LSU degrees, but reminded them that society has high expectations for them now.
“With your LSU degree, you cannot only plan to have a successful and happy career, but you should also serve your community: make time to help your family and friends, to be involved in issues that affect the city, the state and the country you live in, and to vote,” she said. “Educated and informed citizens are key to progress – and we count on you to help accelerate progress.”
Stewart Lockett, outgoing student body president, also addressed the graduates and spoke about the people at LSU who impacted him and ensured he and his fellow graduates would be successful.
“LSU is truly transformative,” he said. “Because all the people that have invested their time and energy into us, we are all walking out of these doors today as changed individuals.”
Lockett remembered some milestones and moments from his and his classmates’ time at LSU, including their first class in the basement of Lockett Hall, first game in Tiger Stadium, first finals week, the first day of spring in the LSU Quad, and saying goodbye to Mike VI and hello to Mike VII.
“And today, when you turn your tassel, know that LSU will remember you as well. We’ve all played a part in contributing to the story that is LSU,” Lockett said.
LSU’s May 2019 graduating class represents 57 Louisiana parishes, 49 U.S. states and 63 foreign countries. Women made up 55.56 percent of the class, and men made up 44.44 percent. The oldest graduate is 72, and the youngest is 19.
The 4,442 total graduates are made up of 3,405 students who received bachelor’s degrees; 712 who received master’s degrees; 79 who received education specialist or graduate certificates; 113 who received a Ph.D.; 17 who received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree; and 83 who received Doctor of Veterinary Medicine; and 33 who received a post-bachelorette certificate. Also, 29 LSU employees were among those who received degrees this spring.
LSU Board of Supervisors Chair James Williams conferred degrees, and LSU Faculty Senate President Ken McMillin served as mace bearer. The processional and recessional music was provided by the Brass Quintet. Chelsey Camela Geeeting, candidate for Doctor of Music, performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the LSU alma mater.
During the main ceremony, honorary degrees was presented to Matthew George McKay, chairman, president and CEO of All Star Automotive Group, and Frank Wickes, director of bands emeritus.
McKay was honored for his long-standing civic and philanthropic commitment to the community and state and for his exemplary support of education in Louisiana.
“I’m very surprised and humbled to be receiving this award,” McKay said. “I’d like to thank all of those that recommended me, as well as the E. J. Ourso College of Business. Geaux Tigers!”
Wickes was honored for his unwavering commitment to the community and the state and for an extraordinary impact on the lives of thousands of students across the country in his more than 50 years of music education.
“I am deeply honored and humbled by this very special degree at this time in my life,” Wickes said. “I wish to thank the officials in the LSU band department, the LSU School of Music, the College of Music & Dramatic Arts, the upper administration and the Board of Supervisors for making this possible. Please accept my most heartfelt gratitude for this degree.”
Diploma ceremonies were held throughout the day and on Saturday, May 10, across campus. A number of these ceremonies featured speakers including:
- Aly Neel, policy & advocacy strategist on the Global Policy Team at the United Nations Foundation and author of “Girl Power in Myanmar,” who spoke at the Manship School of Mass Communication ceremony;
- Director of Bands Emeritus Frank Wickes, who spoke at the College of Music & Dramatic Arts ceremony;
- L. David Sibley, distinguished alumnus and Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Distinguished Professor Department of Molecular Microbiology Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, who spoke at the College of Science ceremony;
- Brian Snyder, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences, who spoke at the College of the Coast & Environment ceremony;
- Caroline Villarreal, a construction management graduate with a minor in business administration & technical sales from Harlingen, Texas, who spoke at the College of Engineering ceremony;
- Kenneth Brown, an LSU interior design distinguished alumnus and HGTV star, who spoke at the College of Art & Design ceremony.
LSU honored 61 graduating students with the LSU Distinguished Communicator Award during a ceremony on Thursday, May 9. These students earned this honor by meeting high standards set by faculty in various colleges and by the LSU Communication across the Curriculum program. The students earned high grade-point averages in communication-intensive courses – based on written, spoken, visual and technological communication – and have built digital portfolios displayed as public websites that include their communication projects from courses, internships, leadership roles and public service.
Also during a ceremony on May 9, LSU’s ROTC cadets were commissioned. Eight of the graduates participated in the LSU Army ROTC program and nine of the graduates participated in the LSU Air Force ROTC program. In addition, five graduates from Southern University’s Navy ROTC program, including three Southern University graduates, were commissioned.
This semester, 53 students earned College Honors and 17 students earned Upper Division Honors Distinction from the LSU Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College. These students participated in a specific honors program and successfully completed and defended an undergraduate thesis.
The LSU Athletics Department, the Tiger Athletic Foundation and the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes honored 84 members of the LSU Class of 2019 at The Tribute on Thursday, May 9, at the South Stadium Club inside Tiger Stadium. The annual event recognizes all LSU student-athletes graduating in the spring and summer of 2019 and presents them with a special graduation stole made specifically for LSU athletes.
For more information on commencement, visit www.lsu.edu/commencement.
Lists of graduates and honor graduates are being posted on LSU’s commencement website, www.lsu.edu/commencement. The lists include graduates who have authorized the release of their names.
Contact Ernie Ballard
LSU Media Relations